Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation
Policy Forums
Gold at what cost? Another megaproject threatens biodiversity in the Amazon
Raffael M. Tófolia,, , Rosa M. Diasb, Gustavo H. Zaia Alvesb,c, David J. Hoeinghausd, Luiz C. Gomesb, Matheus T. Baumgartnerb, Angelo A. Agostinhob
a Centro Universitário Ingá (Uningá), Maringá, PR, Brazil
b Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia de Ambientes Aquáticos Continentais (PEA), Universidade Estadual de Maringá, Maringá, PR, Brazil
c PostDoctoral Fellowship, Universidade Estadual de Maringá, Maringá, PR, Brazil
d Department of Biological Sciences and the Advanced Environmental Research Institute, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, United States
Received 24 March 2017, Accepted 13 June 2017
Abstract

The Xingu River, located in northern Brazil, is already under the impacts of one of the most harmful projects in the history of the Amazon – the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam. A new megaproject called the ‘Volta Grande Project’, led by Canadian gold mining company Belo Sun will be situated adjacent to the same stretch of the Xingu that is dewatered by the Belo Monte complex. Various aspects of the project are controversial. There are reports that the mining company acquired public lands illegally, the affected area has high biodiversity and endemism of several taxonomic groups, and mining operations would be approximately 9.5km from indigenous lands. Synergistic impacts of impoundment and mining operations are expected to dramatically alter the Xingu's biodiversity and ecosystem services that support indigenous people and riverine populations. Moreover, the mining activities will generate tons of toxic waste that will be stored in a high-risk tailings dam, which exposes the Xingu River to catastrophic consequences similar to those of the Doce River disaster.

Highlights

  • There are concerns and controversy related to the gold mining ‘Volta Grande Project’.

  • We raise awareness of the synergistic impacts the Volta Grande Project and Belo Monte.

  • We call attention to the impacts on the Xingu's biodiversity and its population.

Keywords
Xingu River, Volta Grande Project, Mining, Belo Sun, Endemic species